Many of us grew up on the books of Franklin W. Dixon (The Hardy Boys) and Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew). But as we grew older, we soon realized that these weren't real people and that the books must have been written by someone else. Who did write these books? How did it all work? This article in The Atlantic magazine solves the mystery.
Elementary school students who don't read over the Summer fall significantly behind their peers who do. This is just one reason why many have fretted over how to create a love for reading. How can we encourage students to read on their own time? This article in the Washington Post provides a great summary of research that points toward an enticingly simple solution: stop assigning books and let students choose their own.
Add Tom Swift Jr. to the list and remove Nancy Drew and you'd have much of my summer reading as a kid.
What'd I like about Tom Swift Jr? Imagine you're a kid who, even in that more enlightened age devoid of meddlesome 'helicopter parents', could travel no further than a bike could take him. Then you pick up and read this:
Dad: Yes, son.
Tom: Could I borrow the plane.
Dad: Do you mean the one that's the size of a Boeing 747, is nuclear-powered, can fly supersonic and land vertically?
Dad: And where would you like to go.
Tom: Oh, some friends and I would like to run down to the Amazon basin and explore the jungle. You know, the usual things: poisonous snakes, deadly leopards, fierce cannibals, and smugglers who murder people.
Dad: Sure son. It sounds like fun. I wish I could go along. Here of the keys. Just be sure to call your mother every day or two. You know she gets a little worried when you go off on these adventures.
Tom: Sure dad. Thanks!
Ah yes, those were the days.
No wonder today's college students are such frightened, anxiety-ridden neurotics. My generation had Tom Swift Jr. and science as adventure. They have politicians and scientists spreading hysterical gloom and doom about the end of the world.
--Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books, co-author of Lily's Ride
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